Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sleep Training

Well, I know I've blogged about this topic already and I also know there are hundreds of websites out there on this topic.  However, since we are currently sleep training my little one I figure I'd document the occasion.

I'm super tired and should be sleeping since my kids are currently sleeping.. so here is the quick and dirty.

Basic idea of sleep training is to teach the child that he/she can fall asleep on his/her own.  Therefore, if he/she happens to wake up in the middle of the night due to whatever it is, he/she can then fall back asleep without crying and needing to be rocked or nursed.

I love this analogy I read in a book about how even adults have sleep associations.  For instance if my pillow falls to the ground in the middle of the night and I happen to wake up I will look for the pillow and put it back in bed with me before falling back asleep.  In the same way if a child is used to falling asleep while nursing or while being rocked, then he/she will want that comfort if he/she wakes up in the middle of the night.

So what is our strategy/plan?  Yes.. there is some crying involved.  However, I check on her and make sure she is alright.. 5 min, then 10 min, then every 15 min after that.  Based on the type of crying, I can actually tell if she will fall asleep soon.  So if she is not screaming her head off I may just let her cry.  Otherwise, going in there sometimes make her cry even harder.

Plus, what really helped is having daddy going in there to comfort in the middle of the night instead of me because then she cannot look to nurse.  When I go in there, I tend to give in and just nurse because it is so much easier to get her back to sleep that way!

The other challenge to sleep training our second child is I am so fearful of waking up my toddler that I actually delayed this for a really long time.  My child is 8 months already!  In retrospect, I probably could have started this sleep training when she hit 6 months and was taking solids.  Because then I know that she can last through the night without starving...

So at the end of the day, it is an art.  I do not think there is a magic formula.  Every kid is different and therefore I think the exact method needs to be adjusted somewhat.  My older daughter was a real tough one.  I had to almost lay on top of her in the crib and pat her butt so that she feels me real close (but I wasn't holding her).  Then I transitioned to just patting her butt... then to just sitting near her and singing.. then to sitting farther away.. then to outside her door.  Now she sleeps great from 8ish a night to 8ish in the morning just about every night!

My younger daughter does not seem as determined and I'm real hopeful that in about a day or two she will have this down.  Boy.. my other daughter was almost 15 months before she finally slept through the night.  It will be so great if I can get this second one to sleep through before she hits 1 year old!

So here are some books I read on this subject:

No Cry Sleep Solution
Ferber Method
Happiest Baby on the Block


  1. Thanks, Dr. Ellen. I will be dealing with this issue soon myself!

  2. AH! Aren't you worried about attachment?!?

  3. I realize that this is a hotly controversial subject... that's why I think it is an art and not just a science and the same formula may not work for every kid.

    Just my from my personal experience of my 2 kids alone.. they are completely different. I do think that some "form" of sleep training made a difference. The exact "how" and "what" that training looks like is what may vary and that is why I listed the above resources so one can compare the different takes out there.

    Both my girls now sleep pretty much 10-12 hrs through the night.

    As for attachment - I'm assuming you are referring to my older child. She is actually super independent and outgoing. For whatever reason, she just required a slower transition to sleep on her own.

    My younger daughter on the other hand did not need any of that. We just stick her in her crib after her routine. She may whimper a little for no more than 5 min then sleep 12 hrs straight... and as I had wished for it was by the time she hit one.

    I'm hoping with #3 he will be sleeping through the night even sooner!

  4. I'm having all sorts of sleeping issues w my little one, but he's only 8 weeks. I'm dealing w one issue at a time. Now, I'm trying to get him to go down for naps during the day. Each time, it takes tons of rocking and shhhing! Its exhausting! But he has to nap otherwise nights are sooo painful fo me and the hubby. He'll wake up every hour after 2am if I don't insist on a napping schedule.

    Guess I'll wait 1 more month to sleep train at night.

    -cuz pegslin

    Any suggestion on how to make him sleep longer then 2 hrs at nigt? He's not hungry, he just wants my breast to soothe himself back to sleep.

  5. So this is what I do and what I've gathered from diff't books:

    During the day stick to a schedule: Eat, Play, Sleep, Eat, Play, Sleep...etc.

    So for example:
    7a nurse/bottle.. then play.. then when he gets fussy about 1-1.5 hrs later nap
    10a nurse/bottle... then play.. etc
    1p nurse/bottle..etc
    4p nurse/bottle..etc
    then around 6p instead of play I bathe and start bedtime routine
    by 7p (hopefully down for night)
    In order to get him to nap, try to keep it consistent in the same place. I find that swaddling helps because then his arms will not flail all over the place. I also find it helps to give a pacifier. We've even done the swing as well.

    At night if it is not time to eat yet (less than 3 hrs) then I stick the pacifier in him. It is still painful because i"m up but then I'm training him to not snack and therefore nurse better when it is time to nurse and that way maybe last longer.

    It is totally an art. But overall following this kind of plan I find helps because then there is a "plan" and I really do find that with consistency the kid falls into a routine and sleeps better... each time will get a little easier to get him to sleep and each time he may sleep for a little longer...

  6. So what did you do about not waking the older child. My oldest was sleep trained less than a week with no problems. My youngest 3mo is going to be tougher. But I don't want to wake the entire house everytime he needs to cry alittle to go to sleep

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  8. @Luci - Surprisingly, the older kids did not wake up. They were in a separate bedroom and I ran sound machines in their rooms to muffle outside noise.